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  (Source: AP)
Unanimous decision guarantees due process in most cases, gives cell phones a special status among personal items

You can't say the Supreme Court of the United States doesn't have an open mind.

It recently ruled that stops and search warrants based on anonymous tips are legal (seemingly opening the door to indefinite police harassment).  It ruled that police can swab detained individuals cheeks for comparison in DNA databases of criminal suspects without warrant.  It even ruled that police can strip search you without a warrant or even reasonable suspicion.

But while cops can indeed take away your dignity, no matter what they take from you, they can't take away your smartphone (without warrant).  That's the take home message from today's merged SCOTUS ruling [PDF] in a pair of cases (Riley v. California, United States v. Wurie) involving police warrantless searches of smartphones.

I.  Warrantless Cell Phone Led to Prison Time

The SCOTUS heard two cases in which warrantless cell phone searches played a crucial role in investigating and doling out long prison sentences to Americans.  These people were -- until today -- part of America's prison population, which remains the largest officially declared per capita prison population in the world.

Both cases involved weapons charges.  In a Californian case, a suspect was stopped for a routine traffic violation -- expired tags.  The arresting officer discovered the suspect -- David Riley -- was driving with a suspended license.  Then the officer saw Mr. Riley's smartphone.

Seizing the device, he managed to unlock it and began to examine the suspect's pictures and videos (without warrant).  He noticed the suspect making signs indicating membership in the "Bloods" street gang.  And he noticed the suspect posing for a selfie in front of a car that resembled one involved in a recent shooting.

Based on the evidence on the suspect's phone, Mr. Riley was kept in prison and interrogated.  During the search of the vehicle a pair of loaded handguns were found concealed under the hood of the car.  He was subsequently charged with attempted murder in connection to the shooting, based mostly on the circumstantial evidence found on his smartphone.  And because of the apparent gang ties -- also "proven" by the evidence seized without warrant from his phone -- when he was found guilty, he received an "enhanced" sentence of 15 years to life in prison under federal anti-gang laws.

The case was tried in state court, so the appeal went to the The California Court of Appeal which denied the appeal and refused to suppress the smartphone evidence, upholding the conviction.  The Californian Supreme Court declined to hear the case so Mr. Riley's only hope at seeing freedom lay in the SCOTUS.

In Boston, Mass., another suspect -- Brima Wurie -- was observed by police officers who believed he was selling narcotics.  They detained him, but found no drugs.  Seizing his flip phone and searching it without warrant, they noticed a number -- "My House" -- was calling it.  The number had a picture of a woman and a child (presumably his wife and kid).

They looked up the phone number in an online listing, then travelled to Mr. Wurie's house.  Receiving a warrant, they conducted a search of the house, discovering "215 grams of crack cocaine, marijuana, drug paraphernalia, a firearm and ammunition, and cash," according to court documents.

Mr. Wurie was sentenced to 21+ years (262 months) in prison under Massachusett's zero-tolerance laws.  The trial and sentencing were held in the U.S. Court for the District of Mass, so the appeal went to the 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, which sets precedent for Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico, and Rhode Island.  The 1st Circuit overturned the convinction in a divided 2-to-1 ruling, concluding that phones -- in this case a flip phone -- were "special" and entitled to superior privacy protections during searches than everyday physical objects. 

II. Don't Tread on My Smartphone

Now, thanks to the SCOTUS ruling, both men are free and our smartphones are a bit safer from warrantless searches.

The decision was unanimous -- a relative rarity in the often divided court.

Supreme Court
The Supreme Court was unanimous in its decision to give cell phones of all kinds special privacy protections.
[Image Source: Art Lien]

The only disagreement came from Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. who sought to narrow the scope of the ruling.  After his motion was denied, though, he begrudingly signed off on the majority decision, making it unanimous.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. summarized why smartphones and cellphones are entitled to special protections, stating that they are so coveted and used by modern man that "the proverbial visitor from Mars might conclude they were an important feature of human anatomy."

The decision is notable in that it gives the smartphone superior protections to non-digital caches -- such as the suspect's car, their purse, their wallet, etc.  A 1914 SCOTUS ruling established the precedent that objects "incident to the arrest" could be searched.  But the smartphone is special, the court concluded, and deserves special protections as it's essentially a walking treasure trove of personal information, in the court's analysis -- the likes of which were rare in the pre-digital age.

Writing the majority's opinion (which was accompanied by a short opinion from Justice Alito agreeing on the outcome, but disagreeing on the scope) Chief Justice Roberts comments:

Prior to the digital age, people did not typically carry a cache of sensitive personal information with them as they went about their day.  Now it is the person who is not carrying a cellphone, with all that it contains, who is the exception.  According to one poll, nearly three-quarters of smartphone users report being within five feet of their phones most of the time, with 12% admitting that they even use their phones in the shower. See Harris Interactive, 2013 Mobile Consumer Habits Study (June 2013).

A decade ago police officers searching an arrestee might have occasionally stumbled across a highly personal item such as adiary. See, e.g., United States v. Frankenberry, 387 F. 2d 337 (CA2 1967) (per curiam). But those discoveries were likely to be few and far between. Today, by contrast, it isno exaggeration to say that many of the more than 90% of American adults who own a cell phone keep on their person a digital record of nearly every aspect of their lives—from the mundane to the intimate. See Ontario v. Quon, 560 U. S. 746, 760 (2010).

Allowing the police to scrutinize such records on a routine basis is quite different from allowing them to search a personal item or two in the occasional case.  

The court ruling was surprisingly resounding, deciding that virtually every argument raised by law enforcement to justify their warrantless tactics was illegal under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

III. Writs of Assistance -- Echoes of British Tyranny Still Felt Today

The court cited the British concept of "writs of assistance" -- orders that authorized British soldiers to conduct unlimited warrantless searches of colonists without probable cause.  They note the speech by James Otis in Boston in 1761, who lambasted the practice in a five-hour address.  The homage to Mr. Otis is not surprising.  John Adams would later claim:

Otis was a flame of fire; with a promptitude of classical allusions, a depth of research, a rapid summary of historical events and dates, a profusion of legal authorities.

In the famous 1761 speech, Mr. Otis is quoted as remarking:

A man’s house is his castle; and whilst he is quiet, he is as well guarded as a prince in his castle. This writ, if it should be declared legal, would totally annihilate this privilege. Custom-house officers may enter our houses when they please; we are commanded to permit their entry. Their menial servants may enter, may break locks, bars, and everything in their way; and whether they break through malice or revenge, no man, no court may inquire.
An act against the Constitution is void; an act against natural equity is void. Taxation without representation is tyranny.

The closing remark is one of the most iconic quotes of the revolution.

In mentioning the "an act against the Constitution," Mr. Otis is obviously not referring to the U.S. Constitution, nor the eventual state constitution of his home state.  Rather, he's referring to the general form for the collection of British civil liberties and property laws that were known at the time under that term.

These laws were first put in place by the "Instrument of Government" in 1657 under the moderate Rump Parliament whose moderate perspective (to not execute Charles I, the monarch of the time, but to enact a parliamentary republic) won out over more extremist notions following the Second English Civil War.  

These protections in theory applied to colonists.  The notable irony here is that the British revoked these civil liberties protections to combat colonial insurrection and "terrorist acts." Almost identical arguments were used to justify general warrants at the time.  And today, the U.S. executive and legislative branches have used identical arguments to deprive the masses of their civil liberties to "protect them" against potential "terrorist plots."

In fact, the mobile phone ruling itself bows to this hypocrisy a bit, concluding:

Moreover, even though the search incident to arrest exception does not apply to cell phones, other case-specific exceptions may still justify a warrantless search of aparticular phone. “One well-recognized exception applieswhen "the exigencies of the situation" make the needs of law enforcement so compelling that [a] warrantless search is objectively reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.’” Kentucky v. King, 563 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 6) (quoting Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U. S. 385, 394 (1978)). Such exigencies could include the need to prevent the imminent destruction of evidence in individual cases, to pursue a fleeing suspect, and to assist persons who are seriously injured or are threatened with imminent injury. 563 U. S., at ___.

In Chadwick, for example, the Court held that the exception for searches incident to arrest did notjustify a search of the trunk at issue, but noted that "if officers have reason to believe that luggage contains some immediately dangerous instrumentality, such as explosives, it would be foolhardy to transport it to the stationhouse without opening the luggage." 433 U. S., at 15, n. 9.

In light of the availability of the exigent circumstances exception, there is no reason to believe that law enforcement officers will not be able to address some of the more extreme hypotheticals that have been suggested: a suspect texting an accomplice who, it is feared, is preparing to detonate a bomb, or a child abductor who may have information about the child’s location on his cell phone. The defendants here recognize—indeed, they stress—that suchfact-specific threats may justify a warrantless search of cell phone data. See Reply Brief in No. 13–132, at 8–9; Brief for Respondent in No. 13–212, at 30, 41. The critical point is that, unlike the search incident to arrest exception, the exigent circumstances exception requires a court to examine whether an emergency justified a warrantless search in each particular case. See McNeely, supra, at ___ (slip op., at 6).

That ruling is not as explicit as the rest of the opinion -- and perhaps purposefully so.  While it does leave the door open to warrantless phone searches in the name of "fighting terrorism," it leaves it up to future state, district, and circuit courts to debate about the legality of "exigent" (basically, emergency) warrantless searches of phones.  It does raise the bar a bit higher in such cases by saying the warrantless search must be approved of after the fact by a judge.

In its hypothetical and noncomittal language ("other case-specific exemptions may justify"), the court also leaves leeway for the issue to be heard by future sessions of the SCOTUS, perhaps strengthening the protections and further reducing the inconsistencies -- history wise.

IV. ACLU Cheers, Obama Administration Silently Weeps

The Chief Justice is relatively unequivocal that stronger protections are necessary, given the fact that cell phones play an unprecedented and sensitive role in the lives of most Americans.  He remarks:

Modern cell phones are not just another technological convenience. With all they contain and all they may reveal, they hold for many Americans "the privacies of life," Boyd, supra, at 630. The fact that technology now allows an individual to carry such information in his hand does not make the information any less worthy of the protection for which the Founders fought. Our answer to the question of what police must do before searching a cell
phone seized incident to an arrest is accordingly simple—get a warrant.

Addressing the chief criticism that the plaintiffs (state and federal prosecutors) and some of our readers might have -- that banning warrantless searches could allow guilty men to go free and raise crime, he asserts:

We cannot deny that our decision today will have an impact on the ability of law enforcement to combat crime. Cell phones have become important tools in facilitating coordination and communication among members of criminal enterprises, and can provide valuable incriminating information about dangerous criminals. Privacy comes at a cost.
Smartphone and the Constitution
The court acknowledged that defending the Constitution -- and our smartphones -- comes at a cost, but implies that the cost of the alternative (tyranny) is far higher. [Image Source: Cole Hayes]

The quote is powerful and brings to mind the words of English philosopher and jurist William Blackstone, whose writings had a pivotal influence on the Framers and thus the modern American legal system.  Remarking on such possibilities, he commented:

It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.

Steven Shapiro, national legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), cheered the outcome in the phones case, remarking:

By recognizing that the digital revolution has transformed our expectations of privacy, today's decision is itself revolutionary and will help to protect the privacy rights of all Americans.

Not so happy was the Obama administration's U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).  The executive branch agency's spokeswoman Ellen Canale hinted that the law enforcement may look to ways to sneak around the SCOTUS ruling, stating:

[We will continue to] make use of whatever technology is available to preserve evidence on cellphones while seeking a warrant.... Our commitment to vigorously enforcing the criminal laws and protecting the public while respecting the privacy interests protected by the Fourth Amendment is unwavering.

But much like in the important pro-privacy GPS ruling of 2012 which banned warrantless tracking of a suspect's car, this cell phone ruling will be a thorny and difficult one for those looking to avoid due process to get around.  For today, the smartphone is a little bit safer.  But for tomorrow, the cost of safety, privacy, and freedom is to remain enternally vigilant against the omnipresent forces forces of tyranny.

Sources: SCOTUS [opinion -- PDF], SCOTUS Blog, ACLU [press release], DOJ quote (via USA Today)

Comments     Threshold

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Thank god for...
By taisingera on 6/25/2014 10:16:43 PM , Rating: 1
Some common sense from the Supreme Court and not allowing warrantless searches of cell phones and not bowing down to Fuhrer Obama. Too bad they didn't have common sense when voting on OkillerCare (ACA). Really want to see how they rule on the Aereo case, that should be coming out this week.

RE: Thank god for...
By Samus on 6/26/2014 2:20:14 AM , Rating: 3
With how easy it is to get a warrant (hint: if there is probable cause and your already being charged with a crime, it happens in a matter of hours) it's surprising this was ever an issue. After all, they needed a warrant to search a pack of cigarettes on your person, but not a cell phone?

But I am reminded of that ridiculous story out of Florida a few months ago about the officer who basically beat a women out of her car because she wouldn't hand over her cell least that crap will end.

RE: Thank god for...
By marvdmartian on 6/26/2014 7:19:29 AM , Rating: 2
The difference being, with a general (warrant-less) search, the police could use any information found, previous to this SCOTUS decision.
With a search warrant, they're forced to identify what type of information they're looking for, AND prove to the judge that they have due cause to expect to find it on the suspect's phone. If they find something, but it's not on the warrant, it cannot be used as evidence (though it can be used to help point investigators in the right direction, and any other evidence found, from other sources, can be used).

If you ask me, this headline could have just as easily read, "SCOTUS ignores Obama, who ignores Constitution--WIN for the American people!!"

RE: Thank god for...
By Dorkyman on 6/26/2014 11:19:23 AM , Rating: 3
Except that in Obama's America it won't make much difference. Surely you've noticed that the Obama/Holder duo does not exactly regard "law" as something to be enforced, but rather a suggestion. They will do what they want regardless of what SCOTUS says. And if no one cares, they will get away with it. In numerous instances currently they are getting away with it.

RE: Thank god for...
By Piiman on 6/29/2014 9:50:57 AM , Rating: 1
LOL riiiggggght and GB and his gang re-interrupteing laws so they could justified torture where just strictly following the law? LOL
Stupid hypocrite when will you figure it out they both play for the same team and we aren't on that team.

RE: Thank god for...
By ssobol on 6/26/2014 9:39:24 AM , Rating: 2
He beat up the woman because she was recording him and would not stop and surrender the video. She was using her cell phone to record the video (as a lot of people do nowadays). The resulting altercation would probably have been the same if she had been using a "conventional" video camera.

RE: Thank god for...
By tayb on 6/26/2014 10:27:36 AM , Rating: 2
Hate to break it to you but they already ruled on the Aereo case. Aereo lost. It's unfortunate.

One of these days we'll get copyright and patent reform. Today is not that day.

RE: Thank god for...
By SpartanJet on 6/26/14, Rating: -1
RE: Thank god for...
By Just Tom on 6/26/2014 12:31:27 PM , Rating: 2
I won't argue the merits of whether the ACA has been a net benefit to the US but I would like to point out it is not the Supreme Court's function to bring the US 'in line with virtually every other first world country', it is to interpret the Constitution. A law could be beneficial and still un-Constitutional just as a law could be bad and Constitutional. Robert's logic on that case was convoluted at best.

RE: Thank god for...
By Schrag4 on 6/26/2014 1:37:17 PM , Rating: 1
Well the ends justify the means with these people. Obama himself has said that he views the constitution as a roadblock to his agenda. Honestly, I agree with the other poster who wonders what difference this ruling can make if laws aren't even being followed anymore by those in positions of authority.

RE: Thank god for...
By Piiman on 6/29/2014 9:53:14 AM , Rating: 2
" Obama himself has said that he views the constitution as a roadblock to his agenda."

Oh really? Perhaps you can supply the source for that little tidbit? Probably not.

RE: Thank god for...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/26/14, Rating: -1
RE: Thank god for...
By Reclaimer77 on 6/26/14, Rating: 0
RE: Thank god for...
By Piiman on 6/29/2014 9:55:18 AM , Rating: 2
Oh I see if you don't agree with them then they got it wrong and are unconstitutional themselves? Too bad you aren't on the bench ahh? LOL

RE: Thank god for...
By Piiman on 6/29/2014 9:46:52 AM , Rating: 2
Really? How so? Its the same for profit Insurance companies covering you as always. Only now there are a few restrictions on how they can screw you over. You sounds like a moron.

What is your definition of relative rarity?
By Just Tom on 6/26/2014 11:52:52 AM , Rating: 3
The decision was unanimous -- a relative rarity in the often divided court.

Cause it seems to you it means more than 50%...

RE: What is your definition of relative rarity?
By Spookster on 6/26/2014 12:42:51 PM , Rating: 3
Obviously you're not familiar with Micks blog posts. What would be a rarity is him posting something that actually resembles real journalism. That has yet to happen. All he typically posts are articles with half truths or straight up fiction geared toward conspiracy nut jobs so he can get page clicks from the shock value.

RE: What is your definition of relative rarity?
By ven1ger on 6/26/2014 3:50:29 PM , Rating: 2
Jason's addition of Obama into this was just to send the nutjobs off. This had virtually nothing to do with the Feds, these were State cases taken to the Supreme Court.

By Reclaimer77 on 6/26/2014 5:33:37 PM , Rating: 2

Whenever States do something Obama doesn't like, he sicks Eric Holder and the Department of Justice on them. Just ask Arizona.

The fact that didn't happen hear means Obama was just fine with what was going on. He pretty much said so himself.

By KFZ on 6/27/2014 12:00:09 PM , Rating: 2
A few caveats from your own link:

>This is true "For the first time under Chief Justice John Roberts"

>"Another factor could be afoot as well: Roberts has strived for agreement among the justices whenever possible, often by steering the court toward narrow rather than sweeping verdicts."

>"Most agree the trend is a result of the cases themselves, rather than any fledgling change in the court's dynamics. And they warn it may not last — perhaps not even into next week."

Mick's wording is vague, not describing what that "relativity" is. If he was stating "relative to other controversial cases, unanimity is a relative rarity", then he has a valid point.

I swear, sometimes the only thing worse than sensational work is its sensational critic.

Makes me wonder...
By BSquared on 6/26/2014 1:39:33 AM , Rating: 2
How well this will flow with the proposed federal kill switch/remote wipe legislation. Get arrested, they apply for a warrant, suspect uses his one call to inform an accomplice/lawyer to remote wipe phone before warrant is processed. Love how technology muddies the waters on issues like this.

RE: Makes me wonder...
By DiscoWade on 6/26/2014 8:22:07 AM , Rating: 2
The police can simply turn off the device and then only turn it on in a room which does not receive any cellular or internet signal.

RE: Makes me wonder...
By MundoMateo on 6/27/2014 11:09:13 PM , Rating: 2
It's simpler than that even: just drop the phone into a Faraday bag and your evidence is preserved. I believe this incredibly obvious solution to any "evidence destruction" argument was even referenced by a court decision, but I may be wrong.

RE: Makes me wonder...
By Piiman on 6/29/2014 9:58:00 AM , Rating: 2
Not to mention they don't have to give you a call until they feel damn good and ready.

By TETRONG on 6/26/2014 11:09:25 AM , Rating: 2
It recently ruled that stops and search warrants based on anonymous tips are legal (seemingly opening the door to indefinite police harassment). It ruled that police can swab detained individuals cheeks for comparison in DNA databases of criminal suspects without warrant. It even ruled that police can strip search you without a warrant or even reasonable suspicion. - See more at:

I'm sorry, is this true? How can this be possible? Seems like a huge violation of personal sovereignty right there.
I don't want anyone collecting my material and putting it into a database!

RE: Wait..WHAT???
By carigis on 6/26/2014 11:42:40 AM , Rating: 2
I agree... but they decided that the parts of the DNA they use are "junk dna" does not tell anything about your health history. but my understanding is thats still after arrest.

I don't think it applies to people just under suspicion or they wouldn't have to follow people around and wait for them to drop a soda bottle in the trash or spit out some gum.

same with the strip search. I think that applies to people being admitted into jail. I may be wrong. if someone has a source that would be cool.

RE: Wait..WHAT???
By M'n'M on 6/26/2014 12:05:48 PM , Rating: 2
In the highlighted case, the "detained" person is actually under felony arrest. The SCOTUS ruled that a swabbing was just another form of routine ID, like fingerprinting, and so allowed the state law to stand (26 states and the Feds do this). [ MARYLAND v. KING ]

As for strip searching ... again you must be under arrest. The Court ruled that it was OK to strip search the person before locking them in jail. [ Florence v. Board of Chosen Freeholders ]

They blow so many...
By letmepicyou on 6/25/2014 10:20:44 PM , Rating: 2
They blow so many decisions, it can be tough sometimes to cheer for the ones they get right, but I still say give credit where credit is due. Good job, SCOTUS.

Now if we could get the right/wrong ratio a bit highter, things might begin to improve.

RE: They blow so many...
By Monkey's Uncle on 6/26/2014 6:59:04 AM , Rating: 2
Why is it whenever I see the acronym SCOTUS, i keep seeing the word SCROTUM?

Freud would have a hoot with me...

By ihateu3 on 6/26/2014 2:39:12 AM , Rating: 2
They like to show how evidence led them to arrest real criminals. All of us want these criminals behind bars, however it does not say how many innocent people had their cell phone searched, while most innocent people still have sensitive data such as nude pics, etc...

I should not have my phone searched and pictures/texts looked through to prove my innocence.

It is sad the bad guys utilized in this example, got off the hook for real world crimes, but it is a price to pay to ensure millions of innocent Americans do not have their personal and private data searched in effort to prove one is guilty/innocent.

By carigis on 6/26/2014 9:04:54 AM , Rating: 2
nice article. Im not sure it means they go free though. I believe its remanded to the court to determine wether they can be retried on evidence thats not tainted by the fruits of the poisonous tree that was the cellphone search.

correct me if im wrong.. but assuming there is enough evidence they can still be convicted on these charges. In one case.. the best it may do is remove the gang enhancement making it a 7 year sentence instead of 15-life. they still found the weapons in the engine compartment of his car with his DNA on it. none of that had to do with the cellphone.

Get a new writer.
By Anonymous9000 on 6/26/2014 11:13:48 PM , Rating: 2
The title of this article is biased nonsense, and the writer clearly has a political motive beyond the actual content being discussed.

By catavalon21 on 6/29/2014 4:52:25 PM , Rating: 2
[We will continue to] make use of whatever technology is available to preserve evidence on cellphones while seeking a warrant.... Our commitment to vigorously enforcing the criminal laws and protecting the public while respecting the privacy interests protected by the Fourth Amendment is unwavering.

Meh, I guess they'll just get it from the TelCo side. "Hey, Verizon (for example), I got this phone off a suspected horrible person. Send us a copy of everything on it".

Sad, but not unexpected.

I. Warrantless Cell Phone Led to Prison Time
By GotThumbs on 6/26/14, Rating: -1
RE: I. Warrantless Cell Phone Led to Prison Time
By carigis on 6/26/2014 9:49:25 AM , Rating: 2
uhm.. yea.. it prob wouldn't make it to court if there wasn't a conviction.. so yea.. no examples of the thousands of times the cops find nothing and so there is nothing to go to court over to get removed from evidence..

just because you are arrested does NOT mean you are guilty.. or why do we have a court system.. cops don't lie right so why not just let them met out street justice.. your point makes no sense.

or maybe the cops want to go through your cellphone because they suspect you of something else and have zero evidence they could give a court for a warrant.. so they follow you until you speed then pull you over charge you with excessive speed and get what they want.

or the government wants to track lawful first amendment protected protestors... so arrests a few and gets thier contact lists without a warrent.. and so on and so on..

Heck if cops thought you were a criminal and broke in your house without a warrant to look for evidence of say guns..and luckily found a baggie of weed. we should allow it.. because someone was guilty of something.. so what if the 100 other people they suspected and did the same thing didn't have anything in thier houses. you would do great in nazi germany.. prob rise thru the ranks fast...

btw... you go on a ride along.. and you'll realize how boring police work is if you don't live in the ghetto. its mostly loud noise complaints, domestic arguments, pulling people over and writing them traffic tickets.. the occasional drunk at the bar getting disorderly... alot of donuts.

By Reclaimer77 on 6/26/2014 11:49:41 AM , Rating: 2
The Founders of this nation, authors of the Constitution, were very concerned about keeping it's citizens free of tyranny.

There must be a balance between Freedom of the individual, and the ability of law enforcement to do it's job. Tip the scales in one direction, and we have anarchy. Tip it in the other, and we have tyranny and living under a police state.

This ruling was a blow against the increasing police state mentality that our paramilitary "law enforcement" has been morphing into since even before 9-11.

Even people guilty of crimes, or those you're pretty sure are, have the right to due process, the presumption of innocence, and they're Constitutional protections.

Better that 100 criminals get away, than the rights of just one person be violated.

RE: I. Warrantless Cell Phone Led to Prison Time
By Just Tom on 6/26/2014 12:04:37 PM , Rating: 1
It is a blow, and a significant one. However, we are still sliding towards a 'benign' police state. Many modern Americans, most?, prefer security over freedom, so we end up with security cameras everywhere and rampant electronic invasions of privacy. There seems to be a push back these last few years and I find that heartening. I just hope it continues...

By Reclaimer77 on 6/26/2014 12:39:11 PM , Rating: 3
I don't think that's true. The people voted this President in because he ran on a platform of supposedly being against this crap. He was going to be a champion for civil liberties and the rights of the people, and move us away from the police state and Government surveillance.

Of course that turned out to be nonsense and lies. The voters hearts were in the right place maybe, but they should have used their heads. Liberty and rights, and especially financial freedom, are NEVER something that Progressive Liberal Democrats promote through policy.

RE: I. Warrantless Cell Phone Led to Prison Time
By Just Tom on 6/26/2014 12:46:16 PM , Rating: 1
I am not strictly speaking of federal actions, much of the invasion of privacy is done on the state level. And while a majority might not support such things as searching cell phones without warrants or planting of GPS devices on cars an awful lot of people do.

I agree with you on Democrats, unfortunately too many Republicans feel the same way. Law and order is an awful powerful political argument. I think that American citizens have had enough of this garbage but in my worst moments I have doubts.

By Reclaimer77 on 6/27/2014 10:33:02 AM , Rating: 2
I don't know any Republican who says the things Obama has about the Constitution. And before Obama, we had this:

“If the personal freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution inhibit the government's ability to govern the people, we should look to limit those guarantees.”

-Bill Clinton-

And this is someone who Democrats think is a moderate! Moderate!? The implications of this quote are just astounding.

When it comes to Democrats there's only two kinds; Liberals and Totalitarian wannabe dictators.

By Piiman on 6/29/2014 10:51:20 AM , Rating: 2
"When it comes to Democrats there's only two kinds; Liberals and Totalitarian wannabe dictators."

Oh Bull Sh*t
I bet you think all Republicans are saints and would never want to be "Totalitarian wannabe dictators"


Here's a quarter go buy a clue.

By Reclaimer77 on 6/26/2014 12:39:12 PM , Rating: 3
I don't think that's true. The people voted this President in because he ran on a platform of supposedly being against this crap. He was going to be a champion for civil liberties and the rights of the people, and move us away from the police state and Government surveillance.

Of course that turned out to be nonsense and lies. The voters hearts were in the right place maybe, but they should have used their heads. Liberty and rights, and especially financial freedom, are NEVER something that Progressive Liberal Democrats promote through policy.

RE: I. Warrantless Cell Phone Led to Prison Time
By wookie1 on 6/26/2014 1:18:51 PM , Rating: 4
A benign police state is an oxymoron. There's nothing benign about blowing up babies with flash-bang grenades, midnight no-knock raids (often on the wrong house), etc. There's not even an apology from the police after these things happen, on the contrary they blame the victim for being at the wrong place at the wrong time. There is no recourse as the police are protected by qualified immunity unless they can be proven to have been acting with malice. That doesn't sound benign to me.

By Just Tom on 6/26/2014 5:41:56 PM , Rating: 1
You obviously did not realize why I put the quotes around benign. How the police state is sold, as benign law enforcement, and its effects are two different things. I hardly believe there is anything benign about the encroaching police state, and I am sorry if you misunderstood my post.

"I'd be pissed too, but you didn't have to go all Minority Report on his ass!" -- Jon Stewart on police raiding Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's home

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